Monday, October 24, 2011

I jumped a BN log :)

Well, lots has been happening and not all of it good. But the majority of it is spectacular, so we're just gonna keep our chins up (Bastian's and mine respectively) and keep trucking along, as we usually do.

I'll try to avoid lingering on anything too dismal and keep my focus on the happy stuff! :)

So I found some super cute pictures of B and I on Casual Creation Photography's website from our Dressage Schooling Show Debaucle in May. There is this nice halt picture and then this cute trotting picture. The rest of the pictures clearly show why I got a score of 56-something on my test :(

But these two pictures show that we can get this right...le sigh.

So I have now had the B-man back for a full month, which has been FABULOUS! I really missed him. This month has been spent making up for lost time. One of our big high-lights you ask? Going XC schooling on Columbus Day.

We packed up Bastian and one of Kristin's training horses and headed over to Stone Gate Farm in Ohio. We met Samantha and her awesome OTTB Mater there and proceeded to not die. Yes, those are the terms I put my first XC outing in nearly 5 years in, lol. Schooling went perfect, really, it could not have been any better. The weather was just right and it was sunny and the footing was good :) We warmed up over a few x-rails they had set up in one of their sand arenas and then we headed out into the abyss....

Kristin and Samantha went right too it, jumping logs and banks and all sorts of things, Bastian and I headed over to the water to play around a bit. I wasn't overly concerned about the water, he LOVES it and thinks that every puddle in his paddock during TO should be turned into a swimming hole just for him. He will stand and splash and splash and splash. So then we started trotting through the water. Our biggest problem was me. I was on my horse in a large open field where I was expected to trot, canter and god forbid, actually tackle an obstacle and jump something. I was tense, but Bastian being the wonderful soul that he is never batted an eye. He was too excited that we were actually trotting through the water and it was splashing everywhere...weee!

There was a small (like 12") log on an uphill to a Novice Down bank (or an up-bank to a small down hill log, whatever!) So we trot that little log going up a hill and he jumped it wonderfully and I had one of those deja-vo moments of pure happiness because I remembered how much I used to love XC and how fun it was to fly over the fences and how you had to do everything different than in the hunter ring and adjust to the terrain you were on and whatnot. So we did the up-log a few times then we walked the down bank. Yes, walked. I refused to do the down-bank into the water and I refused to do the bank as an up. The conversation went something like this:

Kristin: Go ahead and trot the down bank, sit back and keep your leg on.
Me: I think I'll walk it. (proceeds to walk down-bank)
Kristin: Ok... do the up bank, you can do it.
Me: Not right now, maybe later. I'm pretty happy with the down bank.
Kristin: Then lets do the down bank into the water.
Me: No. Very happy not-dying. Maybe next time we school....

Yes, I'm a chicken. But I'm a chicken that had an awesome XC school...and my words were later twisted (LOL).....

Here is us tackling one of those teensy logs I'm talking about. Not the prettiest picture, but not bad for our first time either!

We went on and did the rest of the course, by the rest of the course I mean that I galloped up a hill (a really quick canter, maybe not so much of a gallop), jumped a cute little log with some stones under it, jumped three other tiny 12" logs and then we headed back to the trailer and therefore right back to the water complex we had started at.... we get back and I'm feeling MUCH better about this whole out in the middle of a field thing so Kristin says...

Kristin: You said you would do the up bank when we got back here.
Me: No, I said maybe I would.
Kristin: No, you said you would. Do it.
Me: No, I think....
Kristin: Do it.

So I did and he was wonderful. Then we did the up bank to the little downhill log and he was good. Kristin says I cantered it, but I'm pretty sure that I brought him back to a trot before I hit the log, but if we did canter it then awesome! Woo-hoo! The best part however was that I finally had the nerve to actually jump a real log, not just one of the teensy little 12" ones I had been doing all day. A real honest to goodness BN log. It was HUGE!!! I knew I couldn't mess around with it, so we cantered in, he didn't even look at it and he soared over it like he's been jumping XC his entire life. He loved it. So with a bit more experience Bastian is going to be a little XC machine :)

And I have hand it to Kristin, she puts up with my whining about having to jump stuff, but then she doesn't actually let me get away with it. I need that in my riding life. I mean now, when I jump on my own (outside of a lesson) I'm cantering little 2' verticals and doing lines and will actually do productive work whereas before I would trot a x-rail a few times and call it a success. So hooray for confidence building!!

No more XC for the year, its just too sloppy up here in the North, lol. But the plan is get out as soon as the spring weather will let me and hopefully I'm jumping 2'6"-2'9" by then so I'm not as intimidated by the BN stuff. I'm hoping to do a local hunter schooling series and show in the 2'6" division starting in January.

Now to switch over the land of Dressage, someplace I'd like to inhabit rather than just have a time-share in. Alas, I love my Bastian too much and refuse to sell him. I can't afford a second horse so I am therefore sabotaging my own efforts to be successful. Don't get me wrong, B is AWESOME and as a dressage-nugget, he can handle his fair share, but he's not going to beat the nice AA warmbloods out there, he just doesn't have the movement. Training level, we'll be okay, First level, we'll be okay, but Second, I'm not so sure :( He'll be able to do the movements, but I don't know if he'll have enough gusto to pull out a good score. Maybe he will, but I'm trying to stay realistic about this rather than start to think that hey, we actually have a chance and then get our asses handed to us.

We had a great dressage lesson the other day, we worked a lot on our canter, which we needed and I got him straight and voila! our canter was soooooooo much better. B is quite the wriggle-worm and I'm not so good with the lower leg on the horse thing so it was a huge struggle for me, but when I got it he was like, "Oh, I can't escape that way anymore, fine, I'll do it the right way *pout*" It was a cool lesson though, because the next day when I rode I could ask him to be straight and he we would go there and keep it for a stride or to, then lose it, so I'd ask again, he'd keep it, then lose it and so on and so on. Whereas just the day before in the lesson it had been constantly asking him to straighten. He's a smart little dragon he is, he goes back to his stall and whilst he munches hay he ponders what he did....or he complains to Gria, his neighbor about all the crazy things I ask him to do. But whatever it is he does, he always comes back the next day having re-inforced whatever we did in the lesson, which is good when I do the right things, when I get crazy and to the wrong things this is not so much of a good trait.

Okay, so this has turned into a ginormous blog post. I have no idea how many readers I have, I'm assuming not very many since I only have 3subscribers and one of those is my mom, I subscribed her but she doesn't actually read my blog. So I'm thinking no one really reads all this rambling anyway and it helps me to remember everything that is going on with my horse and those important A-ha! moments (like jumping a BN log!)that I had. It keeps things in perspective. So if you're reading, thanks and hopefully you find this at least somewhat entertaining, even if you are someone who hates me and is making fun of me and my chicken-ness. LOL :)

My last bit of business is this: I want to be involved with the USPEA (United States Para-Equeastrian Association). But I'm too poor (aren't we all!) and my B most likely does not have what it takes to be international quality competition wise. I don't like asking for things, I believe in earning them. However the costs of actually being a competive para-equestrian is rather ridiculous. So here's what I'm looking for: A horse to ride in dressage competitions that is schooled through at least 3rd level that can put up with "excessive kicking" (to quote many judges)and can come live with me a BEC so I can continue to ride and train with Kristin and the owner of said horse still pays board, shoes, and vet. I know, its a far-fetched idea, but stranger things have happened. I figure I can swing lessons, competition costs and all those lovely things (ie: a passport (because I'm showing FEI levels) is like $500), but I need a horse to ride and someone to pick up the tab on board and shoeing and vet.

Just as an FYI, I work 3.5 jobs. I am a full time High School Teacher, I work part time (around 20-25 hours a week) at a retail department store cashiering, I feed at BEC every Sunday morning, and I organize the PA District IX 4-H Horse Show. So believe you me, I'm working my butt off to cover expenses and pay for things, I'm not sitting on the couch watching Soap Operas with my hand out hoping that money will magically appear in it (or a dressage horse in this case, but how cool would that be??!! I mean I would just be sitting there and suddenly a big ol' dressage horse would appear in my living room, I wouldn't be able to get it out of my house, it would never fit through my door, so maybe it wouldn't be so cool if it suddenly appeared....) Anyway, pass the word along, you might now the friend of a friend of a friend who has this horse that is in need of a rider and they are so busy making money in Caribbean Islands that they just don't have time to ride it but have no problems continuing to pay its expenses. Like I said, stranger things have happened.

If you're still with me at this point, thanks for reading my ramblings!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I would have updated sooner, but my internet was broken :( and I am waiting for once I have those pictures I'll post them, they show a very cute, very perky-eared Bastian :)

Anywho, Bastian came home last Monday to BEC. It is so good to have him home. Wolf Creek took excellent care of my handsome man, but now he's all mine again :) We crammed in some major training and lessons last week.

Our lesson on Tuesday had its ups and downs. I was jittery and nervous and Bastian was looky and quite fresh. Somehow we managed to not die. Kristin had us doing a line and my brain just kept freezing and I wasn't riding, I started to be a passenger and then I became a passenger that was saying "whoa" a little bit too much. But then we finally got it over our last few jumps and I managed to relax enough that it was manageable.

I had to work the next two days so I left him in Kristin's capable hands and she rode him and jumped him and he was wonderful! Which is great, but also proves to me that I'm the problem. Bastian will be wonderful and good to me and take care of me if I give him confidence and keep myself confident.

I had another lesson on Friday, just a quick 1/2 hour to make sure I wasn't going to die at the Combined Test on Saturday. He was superb. We did a line and an oxer. He felt perfect and my confidence was much much better. We ended by soaring over a 2' square oxer. I know, I know, tiny stuff, but a HUGE accomplishment for me and my Bastian. So the B-man got a bath (it hadn't turned horribly cold yet!) and I got all of my stuff packed and ready for the show.

Let me just say that Saturday was FREEZING. It was rainy, windy, and about 42 degrees. My dressage time was 3:42 and then stadium was between 4 and 5. Which was nice because I got to sleep in before a show, not something that usually happens. We got the show and I had a plan to be on 20 minutes before my dressage time so I could be warmed up and ready and somehow I totally botched that up. I ended up hitting the warm-up ring at 3:40 and riding my test at 3:42. I managed to do two 20 meter circle in trot and one canter transition before we went in. Poor planning on my part!

For lack of a warm-up, my test went pretty darn smooth. Granted I was riding Beg. Novice Test A, but still Bastian and I are out of steady practice. We scored mostly 7's with a few 6's here and there. I even managed to finagle a 7 on rider, which is pretty good for me, usually the judges knock me pretty hard for my legs being all over the place. We ended up with a dressage score of 34.

And let me just rant for a moment on how much the small arena bites. Everytime I had to do something I was like okay, we're going to transition from canter to trot before B, I would check my position with the letters and I was already at B! There is just not enough time to do anything, I'm so used to the roomy large arena where you get a bit more time to showcase your horse's gaits and show how steady and wonderful you are. Oh well. Its something I have to live with if I'm going to event, I'll do my best not to harp on it, but seriously...My large striding Thoroughbred and I need more space. LOL I'll just have to think of it as being like one of those freaky hunter eq. pattern I used to have to do at 4-H shows where you had like 10 feet to pick up a canter from a walk then at the next cone simple change, 10 feet to the next cone then stop and back up five steps. Those things were funky.

Anyway, right after my dressage we scurried back to the trailer to change tack. (Thank you grooms!!) Then back to the warm-up. Thankfully the stadium was a "when you were ready" kind of thing. We did not start out our warm-up very well, he slammed on the brakes in front of a 12" crossrail. I felt pretty stupid and it did not set a good tone for me. So we came at it again and then he over jumped it because I was being a fraidy-cat. After about 6 more jumps, we mastered the cross-rail, so it was onto the vertical. Mind you, its a 2 foot vertical. We trot in, I'm nervous again we get to the fence and Bastian decides that 2' is too tiny and leaps over the jump, I am pretty sure he cleared the standards, I was too busy thinking OMG that was huge. So at least he didn't refuse.... Finally we mastered the vertical and then we moved onto the oxer in the warm-up.

I'm super keyed up by now and questioning how good of an idea this was. Bastian is fresh and eyeballing everything because he is of course playing off of me. I really have to hand it to Kristin, she managed to talk me through everything. I cried at one point and seriously considered getting off and letting her do our schooling round, I have no desire to get hurt because I'm being a schmuck and not riding.

But I stayed on and went into my warm-up class. There was only one oxer on course, everything else was wee-tiny little 2' verticals (I'm still convincing myself they are tiny) that we can trot over, we would need to canter the oxer. He didn't hardly look at anything and the course was so nicely set up that I had plently of time to slow him down after we landed and get ourselves collected and prepared for the next fence. They weren't always pretty, but we made it over. He only overjumped one fence (and not the oxer!). We stayed in the ring for our actual stadium round and it rode wonderfully.

I had one round under my belt, nothing bad had happened, I was feeling pretty good. Our actual round went awesome until the last fence. I saw it coming up and realized we had made it, I knew he would jump it, so I just sorta let him go and we pulled a rail :( Sad face. We finished in third because of the rail. But I honestly cannot be happier with how things turned out. Bastian and I totally survived and most of the jumps were good, the ones that weren't so good we handled and worked through. I need the not so good jumps to get used to handling them and not dying. I'm getting much better at keeping my seat when he overjumps.

I'm also glad I didn't get off and hand him off to Kristin. I know that she can make him do anything, its more important that I learn how to get him to do those things, I have to learn how to deal with him. So overall it was a fabulous experience and my eventing plans will continue to move forward. More lessons, schooling, and training and we are going to be awesome!

Looks like XC schooling on Monday is go! Hooray for government holidays and wonderful instructor/trainers :)